Editorials

Think the BP money should be spent on the Coast? Here’s what you should do

People from the audience at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce Pre-Legislative Briefing sign a banner that will head to Jackson for the annual Legislative Reception.
People from the audience at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce Pre-Legislative Briefing sign a banner that will head to Jackson for the annual Legislative Reception. jphampton@sunherald.com File

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce and the Coast legislative delegation need your help.

The 2018 legislative session will undoubtedly include bills and discussions dealing with the millions the state will receive from BP for the economic damages caused by the Deepwater Horizon Disaster. And you should be part of that discussion.

Here’s how.

Stop by the Chamber’s office at 11975 Seaway Road in Gulfport and sign the One Coast, One Voice, One Future banner. They’ll take that banner and the message that the lion’s share of BP money should be spent on the Coast to the Coast Legislative Reception. The more names on that banner the better.

And, if you can, go to the Jackson Trade Mart at 5:30 p.m. on January 10 for that reception. There you’ll find lawmakers from all over the state. That’s the allure of Coast seafood.

Those are the lawmakers who need to hear our story. It’s a story of a Coast not fully recovered from the triple whammy of Katrina, Deepwater Horizon and the Great Recession.

John Hairston, chairman of the Gulf Coast Business Council and CEO of Hancock Holding Co., painted that not-so-rosy picture in October, telling Coast leaders that South Mississippi has 11,265 fewer jobs than it had before Hurricane Katrina. About a third of those jobs have been lost since the spill.

The upstate legislators need to hear in person from those who have lost business, lost jobs or lost homes because of the economic damage inflicted by the spill.

Chamber members are going to stay the night in Jackson and flood the Capitol the next day. Please add to their numbers if you can. If you can’t, call friends and relatives throughout the state and enlist them in our fight, especially if they know their state representatives and senators. Have them explain the importance of a thriving Coast economy to the rest of the state.

Call, write and email state leaders. Remind them of their promise to South Mississippi, a promise that most of the money will come here.

And finally, contact your lawmakers. See them in person if possible. Let them know that you are paying attention, that you want them to get together, get on the same page and get to Jackson with a unified front.

As they have said over and over, they are outnumbered. They have to have the support of lawmakers throughout the state.

We do not know yet what the long-term effects will be from the millions of gallons of oil and dispersants that could be lurking in the Gulf. We can’t afford the Legislature to operate under the misconception that the Coast has been restored, that it would be OK to spend the money elsewhere.

It’s up to all of us to make sure the Coast controls the BP story. And by controlling that story, controlling the BP money.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.

How to contact state leaders

Gov. Phil Bryant

Phone: 601-359-3150

Web mail: governor@governor.state.ms.us

Twitter: @philbryantMS

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves

Phone: 601-359-3200

Email: ltgov@senate.ms.gov

Twitter: @TateReeves

House Speaker Philip Gunn

Phone: 601-359-3300

Email: pgunn@house.ms

Twitter: @PhilipGunnMS

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